See this dress? Does it look easy to sew/make?
Every day in the shop a few people walk in and ask about sewing lessons. We get phone calls every day asking the same. I always like to get to know them, what their goals are, whether or not they have a sewing machine and we talk about their experience with mother, grandmother or aunts who may have sewn. Most students enjoy the conversation and can’t wait to dive into sewing. They realize that learning to sew is a process that takes time.
About once or twice a month someone walks in and asks to learn to sew because they have one thing they want to make. And they want to make it by next week. And all they have is a photo on their cell phone. This ambitious project is usually (but not always) something made from lycra and lace and very stretchy. Definitely not something a beginner will tackle in their first lesson.
When I tell these ambitious potential students about the learning curve involved in sewing, that they must learn how a sewing machine operates, how to thread it, and how to sew a straight line before they make their first item – a simple project like a pillow or tote bag – some decide they do not have the patience for all that. Some become intrigued and decide to undertake a series of classes regardless of the time it takes to learn. Sewing is not for everyone.
Five Things You Need to Know if You Want to Learn to Sew:
1. Take sewing classes. Sewing may or may not be something you enjoy. Start simple, and if you enjoy the process think about buying a machine.
2. Do not rush to buy a machine. I know several people who decided they were going to learn to sew and bought a machine that just sits in their closet. They did not enjoy sewing as much as they had hoped. Before you purchase a sewing machine, ask your friends that sew what type machine they use. Test out different brands of machines when you take lessons. Choose a machine that you are comfortable using. Never order a machine online unless you are familiar with the brand name and model and have some experience with that type machine. You may luck out and find one for sale on Craigslist or an estate sale. The more you know about how a machine operates and how to use it the more qualified you are to purchase your machine.
3. Gather the proper and necessary tools and have a box or tote to store them all in. Basic supplies can be purchased at reasonable prices. What do you need? Good shears in two or three sizes; thread in various colors; seam ripper; measuring tape; seam gauge or small ruler; iron and ironing board; straight pins; disappearing or erasable fabric marking pen/pencils; safety pins; sewing clips; thimble; hand-sewing needles; pincushion. There are many other supplies to consider later on.
4. Learn to do basic hand-sewing. Sewing on buttons, hemming a skirt, mending a pair of pants – all this will build your hand-sewing skills. All machine sewing involves hand-sewing in the finish work. YouTube has wonderful tutorials in just about any area of sewing.
5. Go easy on yourself. Take your time in learning to read and understand a pattern. Choose patterns for beginners or purchase a beginner sewing book that includes patterns.
Sewing is mostly a solitary process, but it doesn’t have to be. To really enjoy sewing, find a sewing community where you can learn tips and tricks of long-time sewists and quilters. Sewists love to gather and share projects and ideas. Sew social!
Call our shop if you’re ready!
This is one of my paternal grandmother’s quilts, and it is over 100 years old. My Mammau. She was from Bayou La Fourche, Des Allmandes and Jacoby, Louisiana. I have no idea what happened to her other quilts but I am very pleased that this one was put in my care, moved from house to house, lovingly packed each time. The colors are still lovely, vivid and clear. The fabrics appear to be clothing remnants, flour sacks and such. The star patterns are not all the same design.
The faded, rough backing
The backing is also interesting – I have not been able to identify what the textiles are. Loosely woven work clothing perhaps, faded whites and blues, and the batting layer is still intact and very thick. The entire quilt is quite heavy, large and of course it’s all hand-stitched. My Mammau taught me to sew on her 1918 Singer treadle machine.
I would love to try and duplicate her patterns in this quilt but the thought of all those little pieces gives me a headache. Ok, I love to quilt – just not with pieces this small. So how do I reconcile my love of quilts and quilting and my aversion to tiny piecing? Because I know how quilting and sewing can enhance a life, and even change one’s emotional perspective. It’s all about creativity and community.
Therefore, I want to join with Scott Fortunoff of Blank Quilting Company in starting the “Sewing Revolution of 2018”. In his most recent blog, he said the following:
- I am going to continue to urge people to teach others how to sew and quilt.
- I am going to try to convince people to get a new machine and give away their old one to someone that can’t afford one.
- I am going to keep selling more fabric, of course.
- I am going to continue to donate fabric to those who can’t afford it.
If you say it more and more, people will believe it and they may venture to jump in. And in Scott’s words: “We cannot allow this great art to wither away and become a lost art” when it is so easy to embrace. “What is going to be your contribution to the Sewing Revolution?” Let’s do this and let’s have fun doing it.
Sew………. are you with me?
A couple of months ago, my husband R. was diagnosed with Metastatic Carcinoma of Unknown Primary. At first we are numb. Walking around staring at each other, trying not to get teary-eyed, but doing it anyway. Now, a few weeks down the road on this new journey, we’ve moved into another phase. Not acceptance. It’s something else for me. R. has an “attitude of gratitude”, and I’m into some other twilight zone of feeling I have not quite owned up to. I’m dealing with this new circumstance as I deal with most others.
I’m making things, keeping my hands moving. Yes, I’m escaping in a sense. Sometimes escape and denial is necessary to get you through. I’m making tiny houses. What is a house but a place where a soul resides. Little doorways. When I’m stitching, I do not have to think so much about the fact that my husband will gradually disappear from this life. But all these thoughts jump back into my stitches. I pray for him to not have pain. I try not to think about how lonely I will be in the future in this house.
I try not to think a whole lot about what I’m doing and my mind can wander off down the endless avenues of my brain. Every stitch a prayer. Going down one way I think of the beauty of the fall season here in New Orleans, which is the cooler temps. Then my thoughts take off another way and wonder about that hurricane that is forming and heading our way.
But with each stitch, each pull of this deep purple thread tightening that little doorway, I am thinking of what these cancer cells are doing to my husband day by day. And that I can do nothing to stop them, nothing to stitch those cancer cells up in a little box and burn them – and my scissors cannot cut off their threads of multiplication. It’s going to be a long journey. Over time, about twenty minutes into my little house, my brain settles into the rhythm of my stitching, and I am once again in a meditation zone. I’m not in charge. And every stitch is a prayer.
Posted in cancer, creativity, depression, healing, life-writing, memoir, Uncategorized
Tagged cancer, creativity, family, gratitude, hand-stitching, New Orleans, sewing
The creative team at Uptown Needle & CraftWorks
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YOU’RE INVITED: Don’t forget the Magazine Street Champagne Stroll on Saturday May 13, 5pm-9pm. We will be open!
The Frannie Baby
dress by Children’s Corner has to be one of the cutest baby and toddler dresses ever designed. Summertime COOL! Make it and let Kate monogram it for you! And, we have a workshop coming up!
Calling all knitters! Bring friends! Help us make “knitted knockers” for breast cancer survivors who need prostheses, 3rd Sundays.
May 21, 4pm-6pm.
Still a few spaces remaining …
We’re with you every step of the way.
|The team at Uptown Needle & CraftWorks thanks you for supporting our funky little shop.
Emma, Robert, Kate, Hannah, Kit, Meredith, Jennifer, Rebecca and Grace (our shop dog) hope to see you soon and very soon.
UPTOWN NEEDLE & CRAFTWORKS
4610 Magazine Street
New Orleans La 70115
Those of us who are creatives often feel as if there are fireworks going off in our heads. In a good way. Most of the time. I am happiest when I’m brainstorming ideas – and when I’m looking at options for a make – will this embroidered quilt square work with this color fabric? Will this hippo softie be cute made from this print? What type classes will I offer two women from Chicago who want a creative couple of days in The Big Easy?
Planning is not my strongest skill but it is becoming one of my most necessary. That’s when I use those “fireworks” to my advantage. Either by hand or on my laptop, I jot down all those thoughts (well, perhaps not ALL) that shoot out from those synapses and opposing sides of my brain. Of course these words and shorthand descriptions make no sense to anyone else, but to me it is likened to catching fireflies and putting them in a jar to be let loose after I’ve gathered them all together.
Only after I’ve gathered the fireflies can I proceed to a creative process of making something on my TO DO list, otherwise the lights may go out and the ideas may not make it back across the brain screen.
How do you “gather your fireflies” (or fireworks!)?
Can you believe we have been here for over six months? Time has flown by! Now that we are growing up a little, and we’ve hired 2 wonderful makers to help us part-time, I wanted to take time to introduce them to you. I asked them both the same 5 questions. We are fortunate to have them spend some time with us, and we hope you find Mollie and Abi as entertaining and talented as we do.
First up is Mollie Wartelle:
What would you like for us to know about you? I’m an artist, reader, traveller, nature lover. One day I want to be an archivist or a curator–maybe of textiles or old films. I have six houseplants. I’m obsessed with my dog; I wish I could take her everywhere I go.
What are your favorite creative things to do? Weaving, crocheting, pottery, paper-making, dyeing. Anything messy and kind of free form. I like natural and recycled materials: wool roving, clay, scrap paper, vegetable dyes.
What is your most favorite thing about our shop? The variety of people that come in and their projects. I love helping people find the right material for a project! There’s also something really special about working in such a brightly colored, multi-textured place. When I get home, I’m still inspired by the patterns and colors in the shop.
What is one weird but true fact about yourself? I have four pairs of clogs in various heel heights. I think there’s a secret clog cult, because I always end up having a lot in common with other people who wear them.
What kinds of things do you hope to do at Uptown Needle & CraftWorks? Contribute to a community of creatives. Exchange skills and ideas with others. Empower children and adults to create more freely. Learn the names of lots of obscure fabrics and colors.
Next, meet Abigail Wynn Wilson
What would you like for us to know about you? I started sewing in high school Home Economics and totally fell in love. I took every class they offered, all on quilting, then Independent Study and assistant teaching. I just couldn’t get enough! I bought my own sewing machine my first year of college and immediately began sewing clothes, trial and error style. I’m the queen of seam ripping, especially when I learned I could take apart old clothes to use as patterns and/or “upcycled fabric.” I also became an avid thrift shopper, altering too-big, too-torn and too-ugly into totally new clothes! I started to fix items from thrift stores for other students: my seamstress business was born! It’s a joy for me to help people develop their style by making their clothes fit just right, plus I love that people come to me with style ideas and inspiration that I can help make reality! Clothes are so important to me because it’s our second skin, it creates confidence and helps us express our personalities, but there’s no reason to break the bank for a great outfit!
What are your favorite creative things to do? Sewing is my first love, but I also like to write stories and poems. I often cut up magazines to make mood boards and colorful collages; it’s the best crafty therapy because you actually can’t make mistakes pasting paper, plus I always have happy ah-ha moments when I mentally let go and just make, in creativity and in life!
What is your most favorite thing about our shop? I absolutely adore the funky-fabulous dolls that Mollie and Jennifer create, they are so unique and uplifting! I’m also in love with our fabric selection. I’ve been to so many fabric stores in my life and I’ve never seen such an impressive selection of playful patterns and bold prints. It’s a potential project wonderland in here!
What is one weird but true fact about yourself? I moved to New Orleans.
What kinds of things do you hope to do at Uptown Needle & CraftWorks? I want to sew sweet things with all the fabulous fabric! I’ve always wanted to learn to knit! Right now I’m imagining some fun new projects like slip on slippers and zipper bags that could become fun beginner classes! I just want to encourage New Orleans to get crafty and creative; expand your individual style with your own two hands (and a sewing machine!). Just being inside Uptown Needle & CraftWorks fills me with excited, creative energy; there is no limit to what kind of wonderful things can come from that!
Come see us! Peace Be,